Wind energy project under way
By STEVE METSCH email@example.com April 11, 2012 10:02PM
One of two wind turbines that produce energy near the village hall in Lynwood, Illinois, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2012 10:27AM
As two tall turbines spun in the wind Wednesday morning, Lynwood Mayor Gene Williams shared plans for a breezy future in the village.
The Lynwood Wind Study Project, which has two wind turbines behind the village hall, is just the start.
Williams envisions a field of 10 wind towers atop a hill south of the village hall, each churning out electricity and being used as a teaching tool — making Lynwood a wind turbine center for the Chicago area.
“If we can do the training and research right here, combined with ComEd’s smart grid and net metering, at some point in time residents should be able to take advantage of this,” he said.
The project, funded by a $120,000 federal grant, now aims to determine how much wind power can be generated by the turbines and how it can be best used.
On Wednesday, the project was discussed by village and Cook County officials at a news conference at the foot of the wind towers. In a statement, county board President Toni Preckwinkle praised Lynwood for setting itself up “to become a destination point for any institution looking to learn more about how to leverage wind power for productive use.”
County Commissioner Joan Murphy (D-Crestwood) recalled how Williams “was so excited” about the project when he first mentioned it to her in 2009.
“He was right. It’s taken a long time, but look at the results,” Murphy said. “We can see the turbines moving, and I think this will be the poster child for the south end of the county. There’s a lot of land out here that’s high enough to pick up the wind.”
Williams wants to one day see the wind turbines generate enough energy to offset residents’ electric bills. Finding a turbine manufacturer to come to Lynwood is another goal.
“What I do is try and push as hard as I can to make things happen. This is good for our region. Not just Lynwood. Not just Cook County. But Illinois. This is good for all of us,” he said.
Cook County’s chief sustainability officer, Deborah Stone, said Lynwood’s concept of “putting up some tests and letting people see it in the heart of town is a brilliant idea. We are going to learn from this project.”
Project engineer Darryl Dawson, with Studio C Management Inc., said there are two types of turbines in the study “so we can make a comparative analysis” from the data. He said that at its peak, one turbine produced up to 15 kilowatt hours, which “will power part of your home needs but not 100 percent. ... It supplements your ComEd service but does not displace it 100 percent.”
At about 30 feet, Lynwood’s wind towers are smaller than those downstate, where fewer buildings allow for stronger gusts.
“There’s more wind downstate. Those larger turbines, they require more wind to get moving,” Dawson said.
Harry Holtz III, chairman of the Chicago Southland Wind Council, likes Williams’ plan to take the lead in research.
“I started the council for this very purpose, to educate people in the Chicago area,” Holtz said. “It’s a challenge, the cost justification. It takes 10 to 15 years, depending on the size of the turbine, to justify the costs.”